Punxsy Borough Police Year in Review: Crime and Commendations

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Drugs and alcohol are increasingly becoming the basis behind many crimes that have been committed during the past year in Punxsutawney, according to Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan, who recently released the department’s 2012 statistics.

In 2012, the Punxsutawney Borough Police received 1,145 calls at its dispatch center, said Fedigan.

He said out of those 1,145 calls, 250 were emergency calls to which police officers had to respond immediately.

Fedigan said his department is seeing major increases in psychiatric and mental health calls.

"It's almost a weekly event where we assist the medics with some type of mental health call," he said.

Fedigan said most of the time it's not a crime, it's just an assist.

"The amount of incidents involving drugs is on a tremendous increase.

It's something that not only we're facing here, but law enforcement across the country is facing," the chief said.

This past Friday, he said that the police department was dealing with an incident where a 12-year-old was involved with heroin.

"I never thought I would see the day where 12-year-olds are using heroin," Fedigan said, adding that his department has increased the number of hours that it patrols schools.

"In light of what happened in Connecticut, we've increased patrols,” he said. "We want our presence known at the schools. ...I would like to have a stronger police presence in the schools every day.”

Fedigan said the incidents police investigated in 2012 increased by 70 incidents over 2011.

He said there's been an increase in many different categories.

Burglaries and thefts, he said, have both increased within the past year.

"Again, we're no different than any other department as this trend continues across the country," Fedigan said. "There are very few crimes we investigate that alcohol and drugs aren't somehow involved in the case," he said.

Computer crimes also have become a large part of what Punxsy Borough Police investigate, according to the chief.

"It was just a couple of years ago that we didn't investigate computer-type crimes in the borough," he said. "Now, it's almost an everyday occurrence, whether it's harassment, scams or fraud.”

Social media has also contributed to the increase in computer-related crimes.

"Social media has become huge,” Fedigan said. “It was just a couple of years ago that law enforcement wasn't faced with these types of crimes.”

Looking ahead, the chief said his department would like to be able to conduct more speed enforcement patrols in the borough, hopefully through special details that are paid for through grants.

Fedigan said Officer Patrick Renwick, a five-year veteran of the department, was recognized back in July of 2012 for his outstanding efforts during the 2011 PA Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project.

"Fortunately, the overtime money helps to pay our officers to go out and perform speed and traffic enforcement throughout the borough," the chief said.

Fedigan also commends the members of the public for their help.

One example is the recent burglary at Ragley’s True Value.

Police released photos of the suspect taken with the store’s survellience camera.

Fedigan said the circulation of those photographs to the public helped his department make an arrest quickly.

Charges are now pending against the suspect.

"I've always encouraged help from the public when it comes to solving crimes," Fedigan said.

2012 Punxsy PD Stats

The following are 2012 statistics released by Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan:

• Total Man Hours — 29,329 hours

• School Patrols — 170 patrols

• Traffic (speeding) — 480 hours

• Crime Prevention — 2,910.5 hours

• Criminal Investigations — 469 incidents

• Supplemental Investigations — 560 incidents

• Complaints Received and Answered — 2,812

• Requests for Assistance — 2,661 incidents

• House/Property Surveillance — 200 incidents

• Dog Complaints — 111 incidents